Sewage Treatment Plant (STP): Working, Installation Explained

Sewage Treatment Plant(STP)
Install a sewage treatment plant in your society and it will have a multitude of health and environmental benefits.

Effective waste management is at the core of maintaining a healthy and sustainable living environment within residential societies, and this makes Sewage Treatment Plants(STPs) an indispensable part of harmonious community living.  These facilities play a pivotal role in ensuring that the waste generated within our societies doesn’t become an environmental hazard, instead transforming it into a resource that benefits us all. 

In this blog, we will delve into the world of STPs, understanding their significance, the processes they employ, and the various types tailored to meet the unique needs of different residential communities.

What is a Sewage Treatment Plant?

Sewage Treatment Plant
A sewage treatment plant removes contaminants and pollutants from water making it safe for recycling.

A  Sewage Treatment Plant (STP) is a specialized facility designed to process and treat wastewater generated within residential societies and urban areas. Its primary function is to purify and clean the wastewater, removing contaminants, pollutants, and harmful pathogens before releasing it back into the environment or recycling it for safe use. 

STPs employ a series of physical, chemical, and biological processes to break down and remove impurities from sewage, ensuring that the discharged water poses no harm to public health or the ecosystem. These crucial facilities are the unsung heroes of waste management, working quietly to protect our communities and the environment from the adverse effects of untreated sewage.

Key Processes in a Sewage Treatment Plant 

Sewage Treatment Plant
Lets take a look at what happens inside a sewage treatment plant.

Here’s a quick overview of the processes that are taking place inside the sewage treatment plan.

Stage of TreatmentProcesses Involved
Primary TreatmentScreening and grit removalPrimary sedimentation
Secondary TreatmentActivated sludge processTrickling filters
Tertiary TreatmentSand filtrationChemical treatmentPolishing the effluentEnsuring water quality compliance
Sludge Treatment and DisposalSludge thickeningDigestion and dewatering

I. Primary Treatment

  • Screening and Grit Removal: Primary treatment serves as the initial line of defence in a sewage treatment plant. During the screening, the incoming sewage undergoes a thorough inspection, where large debris such as sticks, plastics, leaves, and rags are meticulously removed.

    This process not only ensures a smoother flow through the plant but also prevents equipment damage downstream. Simultaneously, grit removal targets heavy particles like sand, gravel, and stones, which could otherwise wreak havoc on the treatment infrastructure. By eliminating these unwanted materials, primary treatment maintains the plant’s operational efficiency.
  • Primary Sedimentation: Following the screening and grit removal processes, the sewage enters primary sedimentation tanks. Here, gravity plays a pivotal role as it allows the solids in the sewage to settle at the bottom, forming a layer of sludge. The clearer, liquid component rises to the top.

    Primary sedimentation serves a dual purpose. Firstly, it reduces the organic load within the sewage, as a substantial portion of the suspended solids settles out. Secondly, it removes materials that may not be easily biodegradable, thus enhancing the overall treatment efficiency for subsequent stages. This preliminary clarification step sets the stage for the subsequent phases of sewage treatment.

Purpose and Significance of Primary Treatment

  • Mechanical Removal: Primary treatment mechanically removes large debris, solid materials, and heavy particles from raw sewage, protecting downstream equipment and enhancing overall efficiency.
  • Initial Clarification: It provides initial clarification by reducing the organic load in sewage, and preparing it for subsequent biological and chemical treatment stages.
  • Efficiency and Equipment Protection: Primary treatment ensures the efficient operation of the sewage treatment plant by preventing damage from debris and abrasive materials, safeguarding both equipment and the environment.

II. Secondary Treatment

  • Activated Sludge Process: In the secondary treatment phase, the sewage undergoes biological treatment. The activated sludge process is a key component, involving the introduction of microorganisms into the sewage.

    These microorganisms, primarily bacteria, break down organic matter present in the sewage, transforming it into stable compounds. This process significantly improves water quality and reduces the concentration of pollutants, rendering the sewage more environmentally friendly.
  • Trickling Filters: Trickling filters are another biological treatment method used in secondary treatment. In this process, sewage is distributed over a bed of rocks or synthetic media, creating a favourable environment for microbial growth. These microorganisms then degrade organic matter in the sewage as it trickles over them. Trickling filters play a crucial role in further reducing organic pollutants and enhancing the overall treatment effectiveness.

III. Tertiary Treatment

  • Sand Filtration: Tertiary treatment focuses on polishing the effluent, ensuring it meets stringent water quality standards. Sand filtration involves passing the treated sewage through sand beds, effectively removing any remaining suspended solids and fine particles. This step refines the water quality, making it suitable for various applications, including discharge into natural water bodies or reuse.
  • Chemical Treatment: Chemical treatment methods are employed to address specific water quality issues that may persist after biological treatment. These chemicals aid in the removal of nutrients, heavy metals, and other contaminants. Precise dosing and treatment ensure that the effluent meets the required quality standards.
  • Ensuring Water Quality Compliance: The final stage of tertiary treatment is dedicated to ensuring compliance with water quality regulations. Stringent monitoring and testing procedures are in place to verify that the treated effluent meets all established standards, safeguarding public health and the environment.

Sludge Treatment and Disposal

  • Sludge Thickening: Sludge generated in the sewage treatment process is typically a high-water-content material. Sludge thickening is a vital step that concentrates the solids content of the sludge, reducing its volume and making it more manageable for further processing.
  • Digestion and Dewatering: After thickening, the sludge undergoes digestion, where microorganisms break down the organic matter, reducing the volume and rendering it less odorous. Dewatering follows, which further removes water content from the sludge, converting it into a solid material suitable for disposal or, in some cases, beneficial reuse.

Diverse Types of Sewage Treatment Plants

Sewage Treatment Plant
What are the different types of  Sewage Treatment Plant? Lets take a look.

Sewage treatment is a critical process for maintaining public health and protecting the environment. Various sewage treatment plants employ different methods to purify wastewater. In this section, we will explore some of the diverse types of sewage treatment plants, each with its unique processes and applications.

1. Activated Sludge Plant (ASP)

The Activated Sludge Plant, commonly known as ASP, is a prevalent sewage treatment method. It relies on the power of microorganisms to break down organic matter in wastewater. Here, we will delve into the workings and applications of ASP, shedding light on its importance in sewage treatment.

Activated Sludge Plant (ASP) is a biological wastewater treatment process that utilizes microorganisms to remove organic matter, suspended solids, and pollutants from sewage. The process involves four key stages:

  • Aeration Tank: Wastewater is mixed with activated sludge, which is a biomass rich in microorganisms. The mixture is aerated, providing oxygen to the microorganisms, allowing them to consume organic substances.
  • Clarifier: The aerated mixture is then allowed to settle in a clarifier, where the activated sludge settles at the bottom, and clear, treated water rises to the top.
  • Return of Activated Sludge: A portion of the settled activated sludge is returned to the aeration tank to maintain a healthy population of microorganisms.
  • Effluent Discharge: The treated water, now free from most contaminants, is discharged into the environment or subjected to further treatment if needed.

Applications of ASP

  • Municipal wastewater treatment: ASP is widely used in urban areas to treat sewage before discharge into rivers or oceans.
  • Industrial wastewater treatment: Many industries use ASP to treat their wastewater, ensuring compliance with environmental regulations.
  • Removal of organic pollutants: ASP effectively removes organic pollutants, making water safe for aquatic life and human use.

2. Trickling Filter Systems

Trickling filter systems are another crucial method in sewage treatment. These systems utilize natural processes to purify wastewater. In this section, we will discuss the role and benefits of trickling filter systems in sewage treatment.

Trickling filter systems consist of a bed of rocks or synthetic media where wastewater is distributed. The key steps in the process are as follows:

  • Trickling Filtration: Wastewater is distributed over the filter bed, allowing microorganisms to grow on the media. These microorganisms consume organic matter in the sewage, purifying it in the process.
  • Biological Activity: Microorganisms break down organic pollutants, transforming them into stable compounds, reducing the water’s pollutant levels.

Benefits of Trickling Filter Systems

  • Low energy consumption: Trickling filter systems operate with minimal energy requirements, making them cost-effective and environmentally friendly.
  • Natural treatment: They mimic natural processes, allowing for sustainable sewage treatment.
  • Compact design: Trickling filters are space-efficient, making them suitable for smaller treatment plants.

3. Membrane Bioreactor Technology

Membrane Bioreactor (MBR) technology represents a significant advancement in sewage treatment. This section will highlight the technology and advantages of MBRs in wastewater treatment.

Membrane Bioreactors combine biological treatment processes with membrane filtration. Here’s how they work:

  • Biological Treatment: Microorganisms are employed to break down organic matter and remove pollutants in sewage.
  • Membrane Filtration: Treated sewage is passed through membrane filters with microscopic pores, retaining any remaining solids, microorganisms, and contaminants.

Advantages of MBR Technology

  • High-quality effluent: MBRs produce high-quality treated water, suitable for various applications, including reuse.
  • Compact design: MBR systems are compact, saving space in treatment plants.
  • Improved solids removal: The membrane filtration stage ensures efficient removal of solids and microorganisms from the treated water.

Rotating Biological Contactor Applications

Rotating Biological Contactors (RBCs) are a lesser-known but valuable component of sewage treatment. In this section, we will explain the function and use of rotating biological contactors in wastewater treatment.

RBCs consist of plastic discs or media mounted on a rotating shaft. Wastewater flows over the rotating discs, allowing microorganisms to attach and grow. Here’s how RBCs work:

  • Biological Treatment: Microorganisms on the rotating discs break down organic matter and remove pollutants in the wastewater.
  • Effluent Collection: Treated water is collected from the bottom of the RBC unit, leaving behind the biomass and solids.

Applications of Rotating Biological Contactors

  • Smaller treatment plants: RBCs are often used in smaller wastewater treatment facilities due to their efficient and compact design.
  • Odor control: They are effective in reducing odours associated with sewage treatment.
  • Low energy consumption: RBCs have low energy requirements, making them energy-efficient options for sewage treatment.

Essential Components of a Sewage Treatment Plant

Sewage Treatment Plant
Here are the different parts of a sewage treatment plant.

Sewage treatment plants are intricate systems designed to safeguard public health and protect the environment by purifying wastewater before it is safely discharged or reused. Within these facilities, various essential components work harmoniously to transform raw sewage into treated water that meets stringent quality standards.

Here are the core components that constitute a sewage treatment plant. 

Influent Pump StationThe influent pump station is responsible for pumping raw sewage into the treatment plant. It ensures a continuous flow of wastewater for processing.
Screening and Grit RemovalThis component includes screens and grit chambers that remove large debris, solids, and heavy particles such as sand and gravel from the incoming sewage. Removing these materials prevents damage to equipment and maintains plant efficiency.
Primary Sedimentation TanksPrimary sedimentation tanks allow solids to settle at the bottom, separating sludge from the clarified water. This initial clarification reduces the organic load in the sewage, preparing it for further treatment.
Aeration TanksAeration tanks provide oxygen to microorganisms in processes like the activated sludge system. Microorganisms break down organic matter in wastewater, improving water quality.
Clarifiersare used to separate solids from the treated water in processes like the activated sludge system or trickling filters. They allow settled sludge to be removed and clear water to be discharged or undergo further treatment.
Secondary Treatment ProcessesSecondary treatment can include the activated sludge process, trickling filters, and other biological or chemical methods. These processes further purify sewage by removing organic pollutants and contaminants.
Tertiary Treatment ComponentsTertiary treatment involves additional processes like sand filtration and chemical treatment to achieve high-quality effluent, ensuring compliance with water quality standards.
Sludge Treatment and Disposal UnitsSludge treatment units include thickening, digestion, and dewatering processes that reduce the volume and convert sludge into a more manageable and less odorous form for disposal or reuse.
Effluent DischargeThis is the final step where treated water, free from most contaminants, is discharged into the environment or reused for various purposes, ensuring that the sewage treatment process is environmentally responsible.

Advantages of Implementing Sewage Treatment Plants in Housing Societies

The implementation of sewage treatment plants (STPs) in housing societies has become increasingly important in recent years. These systems offer a range of advantages that not only benefit residents but also contribute to broader environmental and societal goals. In this section, we will explore the numerous benefits of integrating STPs within housing societies, shedding light on their significance in modern urban living.

1. Water Conservation and Financial Benefits

One of the most compelling advantages of STPs in housing societies is their role in water conservation and financial benefits. These systems allow for the efficient treatment and recycling of wastewater, leading to reduced water consumption and cost savings for residents. By treating sewage on-site, housing societies can:

  • Save Precious Water: STPs enable the recycling of treated wastewater for non-potable purposes like landscaping, toilet flushing, and industrial processes. This reduces the demand for freshwater from external sources.
  • Lower Water Bills: Reduced reliance on external water sources translates into lower water bills for residents, providing a significant financial benefit.

2. Promoting Environmental Sustainability

STPs play a pivotal role in promoting environmental sustainability within housing societies. By treating sewage locally, they contribute to:

  • Reduced Pollution: STPs effectively remove contaminants and pollutants from sewage before discharge or reuse, thereby reducing the environmental impact of untreated wastewater.
  • Protection of Natural Ecosystems: Properly treated sewage prevents the contamination of natural water bodies, safeguarding aquatic ecosystems and biodiversity.

3. Achieving Self-Sufficiency

The implementation of STPs allows housing societies to achieve self-sufficiency in waste management. This self-sufficiency offers several advantages:

  • Reduced Dependency: Housing societies become less dependent on external sewage systems, ensuring reliable waste management even during external infrastructure failures.
  • Enhanced Control: Self-sufficiency provides housing societies with greater control over the treatment process, allowing them to tailor solutions to their specific needs.

4. Cost-Effectiveness and Disease Prevention

The adoption of STPs in housing societies brings significant economic advantages and health benefits. These include:

  • Cost-Effective Maintenance: STPs are designed for efficiency and require lower maintenance costs compared to conventional sewage systems.
  • Disease Prevention: Proper sewage treatment reduces the risk of waterborne diseases, contributing to improved public health among residents.
  • Ground Pollution Reduction: By treating sewage on-site, STPs prevent the contamination of groundwater and soil, protecting the local environment.

Challenges and Drawbacks of Sewage Treatment Plants

Maintenance and Operational Challenges

  • Labor Intensiveness: Routine maintenance of sewage treatment plants demands a dedicated workforce, increasing operational costs and necessitating skilled personnel for efficient operation.
  • Sludge Disposal Complexities: Proper disposal of the sludge generated in the treatment process can be logistically complex and expensive, requiring compliance with environmental regulations and careful management.

Space Requirements and Installation Costs

  • Land Availability Constraints: The need for significant space to accommodate sewage treatment plants can be a challenge, especially in densely populated areas where land is limited and costly.
  • Substantial Initial Investment: The installation of sewage treatment plants involves substantial upfront expenses, including equipment, infrastructure, and construction costs, which may pose financial constraints.

Energy Requirements

  • Significant Energy Consumption: Sewage treatment plants consume a considerable amount of energy to operate equipment and maintain various treatment processes, contributing to higher operational costs.
  • Environmental Impact Considerations: Energy consumption in sewage treatment adds to the plant’s carbon footprint, highlighting the need for energy-efficient solutions and sustainability measures.

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Q: What is the sewage treatment plant?

A sewage treatment plant (STP) is a facility designed to treat and purify wastewater, often referred to as sewage, before it is discharged into the environment or reused. It removes contaminants and pollutants to ensure safe disposal and protect water resources.

Q: What is the principle of STP?

The principle of sewage treatment plants (STPs) involves using physical, biological, and chemical processes to remove impurities from wastewater. These processes aim to separate solids from liquids, break down organic matter, and reduce contaminants, resulting in cleaner water that meets environmental standards.

Q: What are the 4 types of sewage treatment?

The four main types of sewage treatment are primary treatment, secondary treatment, tertiary treatment, and sludge treatment. These processes involve screening, biological treatment, chemical treatment, and sludge management to purify wastewater at different levels before its safe disposal or reuse.

Q: How many types of sewage treatment plants (STPs) are there?

There are several types of sewage treatment plants, including Conventional Activated Sludge Plants (CASP), Sequential Batch Reactors (SBR), Extended Aeration Systems, Rotating Biological Contactor (RBC), Membrane Bioreactor (MBR), Trickling Filter System, and Constructed Wetlands. The choice of STP depends on factors such as treatment scale, wastewater characteristics, and available resources.

Q: What are the different types of Sewage?

The three main types of sewage are domestic (from households), industrial (from industrial processes), and stormwater (collected during storms). Each type has unique characteristics and may require specific treatment or management.

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